Steed Thoroughbred bike review - a singlespeed with classic looks that's perfect for modern urban riding
It might only have one gear but this low-priced, practical, steel commuter could tick a lot of boxes
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The Steed Thoroughbred is a smart singlespeed bike that succeeds in blending modern ease of adjustability and generous tyre clearances with gorgeous classic looks. It’s classy, robust, eminently affordable at £475, and serves as the perfect workhorse for the city-dwelling, singlespeed loving cyclist.
Quality frame and components
Lovely ride feel
Flat bar might not suit faster riders
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At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Steed Thoroughbred is an impeccably maintained bike from an earlier age. From the classic geometry to the powder coated steel, this frame has a timeless, honest beauty about it.
Like the best singlespeed and fixed gear bikes, (opens in new tab) the Steed embodies the 'less is more' ethos.
The Thoroughbred hosts a paint job which thrives in its simplicity: there are four colours to choose from, these being ‘Atlantic Blue’ (the one I have here), ‘Saffron Yellow’, ‘Onyx Black’ and 'Woodland Green'.
Though minimal, the gloss finish features bold decals. 'Steed' takes pride of place on the top tube in its deco-esque font.
Steed’s founder/owner is called Ian Steed - talk about nominative determinism.
The horse head logo has been proudly positioned on the front head tube in the form of a brushed metal head badge.
The Thoroughbred's frame is finished off with the practical inclusion of bosses to mount two bottle cages, mudguards and a rear rack, all features which go hand in hand with this frame’s workhorse philosophy.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is a unisex frame which caters for heights from 5ft 0in to 6ft 5in across three sizes.
Continuing in the same classic vein, the frame is adorned with gleaming chrome componentry which suggests a bike far more premium than one coming in at such a competitive price.
Obviously gearing choice is a very personal thing and in the nature of this bike being a singlespeed you want to make sure the ratio is just right for the type of riding you want to do. It comes as standard with a 44-tooth chainring paired with an 18-tooth rear sprocket, which is a fair choice for a bike meant for general town riding; it’s a comfortable gear to turn on the flat and small hills don’t pose too much of a problem. It’s 66 inches if you use that method of measuring gear size.
However, for riders looking for something a bit more challenging and who perhaps want to target a higher average speed, I’d recommend changing the rear sprocket to something smaller - 44x17 would give you just under 70 inches, which would suit a fitter rider wanting to push on a bit more.
The hub is a 'flip-flop', meaning you can run it as a singlespeed on one side with a freewheel; flip the wheel round and on the other side you can have a fixed cog and lockring. It comes set up as a singlespeed with a freewheel; if you want to ride fixed you'll have to buy the sprocket and lockring yourself.
In terms of the wheels themselves, we have sturdy aluminium hoops which look appropriately handsome with their white rims in a 32mm depth. Added to this is the sensible inclusion of reflectors for improved visibility.
The wheels come wearing 28mm Kenda tyres as standard which is a fantastic choice for a bike of this nature due to their durability and comfort, although there is clearance to opt for something slightly wider if you so wish.
My favourite feature on this build, however, has to be the chrome quill stem, not only because it completes the classic look of this bike, which it does, but it also offers an easy adjustability which transcends modern stems and integrated systems altogether. With a couple of turns of an Allen key you can move the whole cockpit up or down to fit your preference as easily as you can adjust the seatpost height.
My personal singlespeed bike is a Quella Oxford and I must say that the inaccessibility of the stem height has been a hindrance to the extent that I’ve had to fashion a makeshift base to my handlebar bag to stop it from dragging on the wheel. I can assure you that you will have no such problems with the Thoroughbred. With the easily adjustable stem height you can spontaneously choose between practical (ample clearance for a handlebar bag) or poised, and you’ll arrive at your destination in great style regardless.
Glorification of the stem aside, it comes in a 90mm length as standard, which based on your height/reach/frame size might be perfect, or need to be changed to give you a better fit. Attached to the stem are the ‘Swallow Bar’ handlebars which aid in providing a comfortable upright cruising position, and will score additional points amongst the vegans of the world as the grips are made of stitched vegan leather, as is the relatively comfortable saddle.
Finishing the build are the Pro Max brakes which are good enough for the job in hand, and the aluminium pedals which I must say, are a very robust offering over the plastic pedals found on too many bikes of a similar price.
In terms of the riding experience there is much to be said in favour of the Thoroughbred. It feels sturdy, planted and above all reliable, which is exactly what you want from an urban cruiser.
The ‘feel of steel’ needs no introduction to the majority of experienced riders, however if this is to be your first steel-framed venture then I can assure you that the ride quality is both compliant and responsive in a way which, in my humble opinion, is yet to be replicated by any other material.
The marriage of the geometry and cockpit makes for an upright and casual riding position, throw the 28mm tyres into the mix and you’ve got yourself an immensely comfortable bike, perfect for making short work of those pot holes and tarmac imperfections which the UK seems to thrive on.
My main takeaway from testing the Thoroughbred is that it’s a bike best suited to leisurely paced riding in flatter areas. Obviously the nature of it being a singlespeed means you’re stuck with one gear ratio which, in this case, meant I found myself either spinning along the flat at a speed far slower than ideal, or climbing moderate inclines with enough difficulty to warrant getting out of the saddle, which isn’t a problem in itself - critics of fixed or singlespeed will often claim that you’re “always in the wrong gear” - but personally I found the standing position to be pretty uncomfortable due to the short stem and very narrow, flat handlebars.
Now it’s worth mentioning that I’m very much a drop handlebar devotee so my negative experience isn’t necessarily relatable if you’re used to riding flat bars, and at the end of the day it’s easy enough to swap out the handlebars for drops if you so wish. But I would say that riders who choose a singlespeed set-up for the sake of fitness might need to make a few changes up front.
Value and conclusion
On the whole though I think it’s worth taking any negatives mentioned in this review with a pinch of salt, especially when you take the price into account. The bike comes in at £475 which is pretty bloody good when you consider it’s a decent, sturdy steel build which looks gorgeous and carries on the legacy of the classic road bike.
The Steed Thoroughbred comes with everything the city-dwelling commuter needs straight out of the box and If you want to make spec changes such as swapping in drop handlebars/alternative rear sprocket etc then that can all be easily done.
I think what you’re really buying into here is a truly beautiful, comfortable and versatile frame which could last you a lifetime - and indeed it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
You can buy the Thoroughbred directly from Steed's website (opens in new tab).
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